Jarhead by Anthony Swofford
A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

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Synopsis

Anthony Swofford's Jarhead is the first Gulf War memoir by a frontline infantry marine, and it is a searing, unforgettable narrative.
When the marines -- or "jarheads," as they call themselves -- were sent in 1990 to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper's rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one of his fellow marines, and he was shot at by both Iraqis and Americans. At the end of the war, Swofford hiked for miles through a landscape of incinerated Iraqi soldiers and later was nearly killed in a booby-trapped Iraqi bunker.
Swofford weaves this experience of war with vivid accounts of boot camp (which included physical abuse by his drill instructor), reflections on the mythos of the marines, and remembrances of battles with lovers and family. As engagement with the Iraqis draws closer, he is forced to consider what it is to be an American, a soldier, a son of a soldier, and a man.
Unlike the real-time print and television coverage of the Gulf War, which was highly scripted by the Pentagon, Swofford's account subverts the conventional wisdom that U.S. military interventions are now merely surgical insertions of superior forces that result in few American casualties. Jarhead insists we remember the Americans who are in fact wounded or killed, the fields of smoking enemy corpses left behind, and the continuing difficulty that American soldiers have reentering civilian life.
A harrowing yet inspiring portrait of a tormented consciousness struggling for inner peace, Jarhead will elbow for room on that short shelf of American war classics that includes Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and be admired not only for the raw beauty of its prose but also for the depth of its pained heart.
 

About Anthony Swofford

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Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. After the war, he was educated at American River College; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa and Lewis and Clark College. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, The Iowa Review, and other publications; his memoir Jarhead was a major New York Times bestseller, and the basis for the movie of the same name. A Michener-Copernicus Fellowship recipient, he lives in the Hudson Valley, in New York.
 
Published November 11, 2005 by Scribner. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Jarhead

Kirkus Reviews

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War is hell. And maybe just a little fun, once some of the shock has worn off. So this literate and nuanced if sometimes self-conscious coming-of-age tale instructs.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

Publishers Weekly

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A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN, this former sniper's debut is a worthy addition to the battlefield memoir genre. There isn't a bit of heroic p

Dec 02 2002 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

The New York Times

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"We are afraid, but that doesn't mean we don't want to fight. It occurs to me that we will never be young again."

Mar 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

The Guardian

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Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War by Anthony Swofford Scribner £14.99, pp260 Anthony Swofford joined the US Marine Corps at the age of 17.

Mar 23 2003 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

Publishers Weekly

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As Operation Desert Shield becomes Desert Storm, one of Swofford's fellow snipers—the most macho of the bunch—solicits a hug from each man.

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BC Books

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The Deer Hunter figures in one marine’s public humiliation when his wife has sent him the movie but tapes over it with a home movie porn version of her own adultery.

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

BC Books

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Based on the memoir by the same name Jarhead is an intelligent, moving look at Marines who trained for years to be soldiers only to participate in a war where their talents were not needed.

Nov 05 2005 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

AV Club

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The title of Anthony Swofford's urgent, harrowing, and wickedly funny memoir Jarhead refers to the "high-and-tight" haircuts worn by...

Mar 19 2003 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

AV Club

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Based on Anthony Swofford's harrowing Gulf War I memoir, this episodic drama takes a sniper's-eye-view at the Marine Corps.

Nov 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

AV Club

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The title of Anthony Swofford's vivid memoir Jarhead refers to the traditional "high-and-tight" haircuts of the Marines, but it's also a synonym for "dupe" or "sucker," someone who got roped into a raw deal.

Nov 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

St. Louis Today

One gets a sense in reading this book that the Gulf War — in which Swofford fought, and which continues to haunt him — was long ago, in a different, gentler world.

Jun 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

Rolling Stone

What he does do, with unnerving honesty, is render a war of bombs and burning oil fields — the media mostly relied on aerial views — from the point of view of the ground soldiers eating the smoke and dirt.

Nov 04 2005 | Read Full Review of Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicl...

Star Pulse

Summary:A young man gets a crash course in the madness of war in this fact-based drama from director Sam Mendes.

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